Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Doctor Who: The Almost People

Here's a bunch of Almost People now.

So when we last left off, the Doctor was in the Gamma Quadrant where he discovered the Founders had been imitating certain members of the crew in order to infiltrate before the big Jem'Hadar attack, but Odo had rebelled and would not rejoin the Great Link and... wait. That's not right.

Actually, the Doctor had just found a ganger Doctor and a small scale war had just broken out between the gangers and the "real" people.

Unlike Moffat two-parters, this episode picks up where the last one left off in story, theme and mood. I had enjoyed the first half of this story and felt that it was a little more along the lines of a "traditional" old-school Doctor Who episode. This continued that theme, but it wavered a bit at the end.

Ignoring the sudden change in the ending, there were a couple of parts of the episode that stood out to me. First of all, the ganger Jennifer brought Rory to see the discarded flesh, left deformed and dying as Rory began to feel even more sympathy for the plight of the gangers. The discarded flesh still left conscious brings up a few problems; like first of all, why didn't the humans begin to consider the ramifications of the flesh if the discarded flesh remained conscious after the link? But whatever, I thought that it was an unnecessary means of getting the point of the story across too bluntly. But then it became even more blunt with Jennifer's line of, "Who are the real monsters?" Yeah. We got it. We got it a while ago. That really wasn't necessary and it kind of felt like the audience was being treated as if we were morons and couldn't figure out the ethical dilemma that was set up in the previous 80 minutes.

I was also a bit disappointed that for a story about morality, they had to end it with Jennifer turning into a monster for a final runaway and battle scene. Really, I wish that they would have enough faith in the audience to give us a more cerebral ending instead of ending it with a monster to fight. Plus, the fact that Jennifer could turn into this ravaging beast threatening to destroy half a dozen people on her own kind of hurts their message about the gangers being just like people and acceptance. Maybe it's just me, but I think I'd be a little wary of someone who could turn into a rampaging murderous beast and kill everyone around them with little effort telling me that he just wants to be accepted and treated like everyone else.

But probably my biggest problem with the resolution is that they spent two hours making the case for the fact that the gangers are in fact a valid life and are worthy of an existence in their own right, but then they casually discarded them at the end. The ganger Doctor and the ganger head-ache girl stay back to fight off the monster Jennifer and everyone is fine with their impending deaths. Just a quick, "Thanks, mates!" and they leave them to die.

Had the human head-ache girl stayed behind instead of the ganger one, I think there would have been more pause. Plus, the two gangers who stayed behind stopped the Jennifer monster by using the sonic screwdriver to revert the flesh, also taking themselves out in the process. Why the fuck didn't the real Doctor send all of the flesh gangers into the TARDIS and close the door and sonic the Jennifer monster to death himself? It was really just sloppy writing at the end to try to get rid of the ganger Doctor who would have caused some story problems, but also make sure that there are no pairs of identical humans and gangers left, because that would have caused potential off-stage complications if you thought about it.

So really, the Doctor spent all of this time validating the existence of the gangers to casually shrug off their deaths at the end. Kind of depressing.

And so, the only survivors of the acid mine are the ganger father, who is dropped off early to see his "inherited" kid, the real head-ache girl and the ganger of someone who did so little in the fucking two episodes that I'm not even entirely sure he was even in the first half.

And the little twist of the Doctor and the ganger Doctor swapping shoes was guessed by me very early into the episode. There were far too many lines of Amy saying, "I know the real Doctor and that's you," and, "Yep, you are the one and only real Doctor alright. I can tell the difference," and, "There's no way you are really a ganger who swapped shoes. I can tell and I'm not just being overly blunt about a message about prejudice." Well, maybe she didn't say the last line. But she really implied it.

But the extra twist comes at the end of the episode where we discover that Amy has really been a ganger and the "real" Amy is pregnant and being held captive, which is why the TARDIS couldn't accurately read her pregnancy. There are a shitload of continuity issues that come along with this revelation, such as how and when her abduction took place. It also annoys me that the Doctor supposedly knew about this (or at least suspected) since the first pregnancy readings. Well, if that's the case, then why didn't he prioritize that little fact and not go on random pirate adventures? He's also the most incompetent time traveler when he cannot solve a lot of these problems. I understand the whole not affecting his own timeline stuff, but he could have decommissioned the flesh Amy much earlier, spent fifty years preparing to save her, then go back in time to the moment he decommissioned the flesh Amy to save the real one.

But, whatever. Instead, we get yet another awkward instance of the Doctor decommissioning a flesh being after we just spent two hours of him validating their existence as worthy of life.

Anyhow, I still liked the theme of the storyline, but was disappointed at the ending and I'm wary of the little Amy ganger swerve at the end. I figure they'll never fully satisfy the logic behind that for me, but I'll still enjoy the ride well enough.

Molly: (As usual, Molly's portion of the review will be in Q&A form due to her age and inability to write on her own. She's by my computer and I'll ask her questions and transcribe the best I can as she answers me. I'll format it afterward.)

Chuckie: What did you think of the episode, the Almost People?
Molly: Um, well, I liked it.

Chuckie: What did you like about it?
Molly: That there was... that she had her baby.

Chuckie: Who had a baby?
Molly: Amelia Pond.

Chuckie: So, what happened? How did Amelia Pond have her baby?
Molly: Well, in the other episode, the TARDIS said she was pregnant and not pregnant and she had her baby. She was a ganger.

Chuckie: So, tell me what happened in this episode?
Molly: Well, um, at the end, he blowed balloons as a ganger. To his kid. The white haired boy ganger did that. Um, and there was, um, and, and, Amelia Pond, um, well when Rory stepped closer to her, she was really a ganger and that one.

Chuckie: Yeah, but what happened with the rest of the gangers and the acid factory?
Molly: Well, one ganger that wasn't made of acid, he died.

Chuckie: How?
Molly: Acid.

Chuckie: Oh. What else happened?
Molly: Um, Rory and a ganger runned, and then Rory, like, was near a wall and the gangers and the two Doctors and one of them was a ganger and ganger Amelia Pond went to try to find Jennifer and Rory.

Chuckie: Okay. So, tell me about the ganger who became the boy's daddy.
Molly: He, um, well, he was taking over the one of his real daddy's job to take care of his kid.

Chuckie: That was his job?
Molly: Yeah.

Chuckie: Well, what do you think that means that the ganger was going to be his dad?
Molly: That he was going to be nice to the kid and register him for kindergarten  because he turned 5.

Chuckie: So, do you think that the gangers could be real people and live real lives, or are they really still monsters?
Molly: One is still a monster. Jennifer Lucas.
Chuckie: Lucas? Was that her last name?
Molly: Yeah, probably.
Chuckie: Okay, you might be right.
Molly: She was a monster at the end. Her head was so long and she had four feet.

Chuckie: What happened to the ganger Doctor?
Molly: Well, now I'm getting confused again. Because one was holding the door and the other was going inside the TARDIS, but I couldn't see their shoes. So I don't know which one made it into the TARDIS.

Chuckie: Well, the one that stayed behind got turned into the white flesh goop. So, don't you think that one was the ganger?
Molly: So, the ganger Doctor was holding the door?

Chuckie: Yeah. The real Doctor escaped in the TARDIS.
Molly: Yes!
Chuckie: You weren't sure?
Molly: Yeah, I didn't see the shoes, so I wasn't all the way sure.

Chuckie: So, how would you rate this episode?
Molly: Twenty million stars and it was okay.
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: One. And a million eleven moons. That's not even a real number, right Daddy?

Chuckie: Well, a million eleven could be one million and eleven which is a real number.
Molly: But I'd rather pick a not real number.
Chuckie: Okay, like what?
Molly: Um, one hundred and one.
Chuckie: That's a real number.
Molly: Fine. Can we just get on with the suns?

Chuckie: Okay. How many suns?
Molly: One hundred and forty-two.
Chuckie: That's a real number. Out of how many?
Molly: Out of zero.

Chuckie: That makes it not a real number.
Molly: I know. That's why I picked it. You said that when I make it out of zero it's not a real number.
Chuckie: Wow. You mean you actually remember what I said about real numbers?
Molly: Mm-hm.

Chuckie: So how do you think this episode ranks with the other episodes this season?
Molly: I don't even know what that means.

Chuckie: I mean, do you think it was better than the other episodes or worse than them or somewhere in the middle?
Molly: It was okay.

Chuckie: Fair enough. Anything else you'd like say about this episode?
Molly: Pop Pop might like it.
Chuckie: Why?
Molly: Because he likes Doctor Who. Because there's a doctor in it.

So, that's our review. I thought the first two-thirds of it was good, even if they were a bit blunt with the morality and messaging of the episode. The ending was a bit disappointing because of the Jennifer Monster (which is, however, a fun term to write) and the casual sacrificing of the gangers after spending all of that time validating their existence. And the real Doctor's little speech before the sacrifice of the gangers was, "Well, there is a chance that your consciousness might be preserved somewhere, somehow," wasn't overly validating for that sacrifice. I mean, isn't that the same thing that we say to real humans when they are about to die?

I give it two and a half out of five stars. I would have given it more if not for the bluntness and the off-message endings. I still like the concept of the story and a fair bit of the execution, but it just didn't quite pull it off and some of the errors are ones that were hard to forgive.

Molly gives it twenty millions stars out of one, either a million and eleven or one hundred and one moons, and one hundred forty-two suns out of zero, making it a not-real number. She also remembered that dividing by zero does not produce a real number. So apparently our reviews are turning my little girl into a math nerd.

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